Donald wary of young guns in push for playoff title

Saturday, 3 September 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - British world number one Luke Donald will start this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship hungry for a second PGA Tour victory this year but wary of some of the game’s successful young guns.

Going into the second of the four lucrative FedExCup playoff events, Donald occupies fifth spot in the standings and is in good position to make a run at the overall title and its $10 million bonus.

However, the Englishman trails FedExCup leader Dustin Johnson by 1,583 points and probably needs to record another triumph on the U.S. circuit if he is to take over at the top.

“The goal is to win,” Donald told reporters while wrapping up his preparations at the TPC Boston on Thursday.

“I think winning is more important than ever during the playoffs than it is during the regular season. “I mean, with the (FedExCup) points times by five, there’s a lot more volatility, and winning is very important. Hopefully I’ll have a good chance come Sunday.”

Last week, Donald tied for 18th at The Barclays, the opening playoff event.

During that tournament, he played in the company of American rookie Keegan Bradley, winner of the PGA Championship and yet another in a long line of exciting young players emerging across the globe.

With Bradley and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy both claiming major titles this season, the changing of the guard seems to be underway and Donald is both aware of and motivated by this development.

“I played with Keegan last week and I was impressed,” the 33-year-old said. “He’s had a great year. As a rookie to win twice and one of them be a major, that’s an unbelievable year.

“All the youngsters doing well, I think that’s good. It keeps me working hard, keeps me on my toes and it’s exciting to see a lot of new talent coming through.

“People enjoy watching them, and it’s good for the game,” added Donald, who won the elite WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February and has posted nine other top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.

Ahead of Friday’s opening round at the TPC Boston, big-hitting American Johnson leads the FedEx Cup standings by 784 points over compatriot Matt Kuchar.

Nick Watney, who entered the playoffs in the top spot, is third with fellow American Webb Simpson close behind in fourth and Donald in fifth.

The leading 70 players in the standings after this week move on to the BMW Championship at Cog Hill before the top 30 qualify for the Tour Championship finale at East Lake.

Defending champion this week is Charley Hoffman, who fired 11 birdies in a final-round 62 last year to claim his second PGA Tour title.

“Obviously it’s a good feeling coming back to Boston,” the long-haired American said. “Last time I left the media centre here, I was pretty happy.”